Tag Archives: pins

Woodworking in America: Pins vs. Tails and Booking Travel

My travel is finally booked for the Woodworking in America conference, thanks to a recommendation from Ravi at work, I saved a ton of money by using Kayak to find a cheap direct flight from Seattle to Cincinnati. Expedia lost my business on this trip, their site was broken for me, and their prices were high.

Cincinnati has two airports, and I’m flying into CVG so I hope that’s the right one. I’m staying at the Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter which is right next to the conference, so my commute should be fairly easy. I’ll be attending many of the dinners and pub crawls, so I hope to meet as many fellow woodworkers and bloggers.

I was thinking the other day of pins vs. tails, and why I think cutting tails first makes sense. Shannon Rogers the Renaissance Woodworker tweeted about this the other day as well. Without getting either of us in too much trouble with Frank, here’s why I think cutting tails first makes sense. Let’s be clear, I am not even close to being in the same league as Frank Klausz or Shannon Rogers. But, I am a bit of a process wonk and one of my strengths at my day job is getting things done efficiently and at high quality. One way to do that is to eliminate steps when possible

Let’s say you’re making, oh I don’t know, an eight-drawer dresser. Their are 16 drawer sides total, two per drawer. Eight are size “A” and eight are size “B”.

Let’s breakdown the work, add up the steps, and compare:

Pins First

  1. Layout 16 sets of pins
  2. Cut 16 sets of pins (two sets per face)
  3. Trace 16 sets of pins onto sides to cut tails
  4. Cut 16 sets of tails


  • 16 Layouts
  • 16 Traces
  • 32 cuts

Tails First

  1. Layout tails for “A”
  2. Layout tails for “B”
  3. Gang 8 “A” sides and cut
  4. Gang 8 “B” sides and cut
  5. Trace 16 sets of tails onto faces to cut pins
  6. Cut 16 sets of pins


  • 2 Layouts
  • 16 Traces
  • 18 cuts (1 gang “A”, 1 gang “B”, 16 sets of pins)


I think tails first wins here from a total labor perspective, it may also win in a consistency perspective. All the “A” boards will be very similar, same with the “B”. Things won’t be so uniform that they look machine made, but they will look great. What do you think? How wrong am I?


Hobomonk on Lumberjocks reminded me of Rob Cosman’s tails first video over on youtube. Check it out.